- Mirroring It’s a given fact that people judge us – positively and negatively – by our posture. What’s less known is that we can consciously alter our body language to build rapport with a speaker. Mirroring is a simple technique. When my dad had a stroke, I had to learn new ways to communicate with him. If he put his left hand up to his forehead, I did the same. He looked through the window at the daffodils and my gaze followed his. This isn’t about ‘apeing’ the person opposite you; it’s about showing that you’re connected to them. Don’t overuse mirroring, though. It can turn into copying, which is never a good look in an adult conversation.
- Ask questions… In our personal lives, smart questions strengthen our relationships. In a work situation, questions can help to reduce mistakes, clear up any misunderstandings and build rapport. It’s good to actively encourage colleagues to express themselves. You may be in a rush to get the budget meeting done and dusted, and go and get that well-earned cup of coffee, but a minute spent asking, ‘How do you feel?’ or, ‘What do you think about that?’ will always be rewarding. People will be more open to you because you’ve shown empathy towards them.
- …and listen to answers The average person speaks at 150 words a minute, but listens at 450 words a minute. So we have spare brain capacity during any conversation. This is why we can often drift off and think about our to-do lists and holiday plans, when we should actually be paying attention to the fire drill. We are all busy and it’s easy to get distracted, so try this. When people are talking about themselves, really listen to their answers. Don’t judge the speaker or their words. Don’t focus on your need to reply. Just listen.
Andreas Loizou is a writer, finance expert and author of The Devil's Deal (Pearson, £14.99)